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Tue, March 31

New Canyon Vistas mule rides available for GC visitors

Mules heading into the canyon. Xanterra now offers mule rides along the rim. Submitted photo.

Mules heading into the canyon. Xanterra now offers mule rides along the rim. Submitted photo.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - For the first time in 116 years, Grand Canyon mule riders will be able to take in the spectacular vistas of Grand Canyon along the rim of the Canyon. Xanterra is offering a new four-mile, three-hour mule ride that starts five miles east of the Grand Canyon Village. The interpretive Canyon Vistas Mule Ride replaces the Abyss Overlook Mule Ride, operated since Oct. 2009.

The mule ride includes two hours in the saddle, plus an interpretive van ride from the Grand Canyon Village to the Yaki Barn - the point where mules depart - and back. The mule riders travel along a new East Rim Trail. Wranglers stop six times along the trail to provide interpretive information about the geologic formations, human history, fire ecology and more.

"Mules have long been an important part of the Grand Canyon's rich history, and these large, sturdy creatures have been a valuable and much-loved traveler attraction since they were first offered to visitors in 1887," said Jon Streit, general manager of Xanterra South Rim. "We are indebted to the National Park Service for its enthusiasm and hard work in creating this new trail and assisting with the development of the interpretive material."

The interpretive mule ride is offered up to two times each day for rides for up to 20 riders per departure.

From March 15 through Oct. 31 the mule ride departs at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., and from Nov. 1 through March 14 the ride departs once each day at 10 a.m.

Riders must check in at the Bright Angel Lodge's transportation desk the day before or at least two hours before departure time on the day of their ride and then be at the main livery barn in Grand Canyon Village 30 minutes before departure. An interpretive van ride to the Yaki Barn and back is included in the ride.

All levels of riders are welcome, but must weigh less than 225 pounds fully dressed and be least 4 feet, 7 inches tall. Each rider must be able to speak and understand fluent English and be in good physical condition. Long sleeve shirts, long pants, hats and close-toed shoes are required. Riders should not be afraid of heights or large animals. Riders cannot be pregnant.

More than 600,000 people have taken Grand Canyon mule rides since they were first offered in 1887. In 1904, the Fred Harvey Company became the exclusive provider of mule rides at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Xanterra Parks & Resorts, then known as Amfac Parks & Resorts, purchased the Fred Harvey Company in 1968.

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